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Fonio Salad, A West African Treasure

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Fonio, from West Africa, is fast becoming the next super grain. It is a super hardy crop that thrives in the driest environments and packs a nutritional punch. I think it tastes like a nutty couscous. This recipe is from Pierre Thiam, a New York-based Senegalese chef and founder of Yolele Foods, a company that distributes fonio and other products from Senegal. Order it online at Yolele Foods. Order Chef Thiam's cookbook Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl for more delicious recipes.

Fonio Salad

Ingredients: Juice of 2 lemons 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 cup olive oil 2 cups cooked fonio (see instructions below) or quinoa 1 bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped 1 bunch mint, leaves finely chopped 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced 1/2 red onion, finely chopped 1 cup red and yellow grape tomatoes, halved 1 small cucumber, seeded and diced 1/2 cup Spiced Cashews (page 87; optional)

Instructions: In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice with the salt and pepper. Slowly pour in the oil, whisking to emulsify.

Place the fonio in a large bowl and add the parsley, mint, mango, onion, tomatoes, and cucumber. Toss well and generously fold in the vinaigrette to taste. (You may have some left over.) Top with the spiced cashews (if using) and serve immediately.

Ingredients: 1 cup uncooked fonio Salt

Instructions: In a large bowl, wash the fonio grains by submerging in warm water, swishing the grains around with your fingers, then pouring out and replacing the water several times until it runs clear. Drain well.

Using a steamer: Place the fonio in the top of a steamer basket lined with damp cheesecloth. Set over simmering salted water, cover, and steam for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork. Drizzle a few tablespoons of salted water over the fonio and steam again until the grains are completely tender, another 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.


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